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‘That’s Outrageous’: Philadelphia Police Union Demands 5 Percent ‘Accountability Pay’ to Wear Body Cameras

A powerful police union in Philadelphia is demanding its members be paid to wear body cameras.

More specifically, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 has requested a 5 percent “accountability pay” increase, among other demands, in its proposed Philadelphia Police Department contract, The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting. Those additional demands include more pay for living within city limits, a clothing and maintenance allowance, and triple overtime for court appearances scheduled on officers’ normal off days.

The contract has been the source of much contention, becoming the topic of a hearing in November that went on for seven hours and featured almost 100 speakers, the Inquirer reported. Some of the items are in response to the city’s proposed changes — which include “a push to require officers to live in the city; rules limiting back pay or reinstatement for officers who are fired or disciplined; and a new performance management system” — the report states.

Though the proposal is only a draft, per a city spokesperson, they said their demands “would be critical in terms of improved accountability for wrongdoing.” Advocates for police being held accountable frowned at the FOP’s request for a pay increase in exchange for wearing body cameras.

“If what the FOP is requesting is more money because they will be more accountable, that’s outrageous,” said Rev. Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel AME Church, who also co-directs POWER’s Live Free Campaign, which works to end gun violence, mass incarceration and police violence. “The disciplinary process is deeply flawed. For advocates, the entire disciplinary process needs to be thrown out and we need to start all over again,” he added in his comments to the Inquirer.

The union’s president, John McNesby, refused to comment on the matter. “We don’t discuss what we’re doing in the papers about our contract,” McNesby said in a statement.

Philly Power Research reports that police raises are already higher than those of other city workers. “FOP raises over past decade have outpaced other city workers by about 2x. Many other city workers already operate under constant surveillance- cameras/IT logs,” the group tweeted.

While the Philadelphia union’s demand is not typical, body camera expert Charles Katz said police unions have tied pay increases to body camera use before. Citing Las Vegas Metro Police as an example, Katz told the Inquirer the reason the trend isn’t typical is because wearing body cameras is now the “standard of care.”

“Now many police officers argue they won’t go out on the street without body-worn cameras,” Katz said. “They want that as evidence they are doing the job right.”

Tyler said he hoped any money put toward improving police accountability wouldn’t be at the expense of Philadelphians.

“We believe that should not be new money, but that money should come directly from the Police Department’s existing budget,” he said. “The citizens should not be held responsible for the lack of accountability.”

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